Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 76A, in my name and in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. This is a probing amendment to allow the Minister to expand on some of his helpful comments in an earlier group with regard to how the monitoring committee and the joint committee will operate.

    When we started the Bill and I first read the treaty, I was not at that stage quite appreciative of how significant the monitoring committee and the joint committee would be when it comes to making decisions about the preparedness of when Rwanda would be a safe country. I was not aware at that stage, when I read the treaty, because at that stage, I was not aware that I was a decision-maker as to whether or not Rwanda would be safe. According to the Advocate-General, however, I am a decision-maker because I am a Member of Parliament and it is now a decision of the court of Parliament: this creature that has now come up from the grave to sit in judgment of a third country’s record on safety.

    It is also relevant because the monitoring committee and the joint committee will be the supervising bodies, to some extent, with regard to the overall operation of the start to the end of the relocation processes. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, is absolutely right: we do need more information about it, because we are gradually learning about what some of the estimates may be for the numbers to be relocated.

    The Hope hostel in Kigali can accommodate 200 people, with an average processing time of a fortnight. On the previous day of Committee, we did the maths, as the Americans say. Well, we can do some more maths now, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has helped us. If we believe the Daily Telegraph, which occasionally is a reliable journal of Conservative thinking in this country, if there are 30,000 people, on the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Murray’s, impact assessment of the Illegal Migration Act, which, of course, we will take as read, that is £5.6 billion plus the £400 million down payment, so a neat £6 billion.

    The Minister, in an earlier group, outlined the very high cost of accommodating existing asylum seekers in hotel accommodation. We know, through the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, that the Home Office decided on the most expensive and least efficient means by which to accommodate asylum seekers. Nevertheless, that is £2.9 billion a year—so, on any reckoning, the number of those who will be relocated to Rwanda will take at least a decade at a cost of at least £6 billion. There is no means by which the Government can have a more effective way for the British taxpayer than efficient accommodation and processing here in this country. There is no way the Government can square any of it to make the Rwanda scheme cheaper for the British taxpayer.

    Ultimately, we are looking not just for value for money but for whether we can make the decision that Rwanda is safe and the mechanisms are in place.

    Lord Lilley:

    Before the noble Lord moves on to the other bits, can he give us some estimate of how much it will cost the British taxpayer if he and his friends succeed in perforating this Bill like a sieve so that it has no deterrent effect and we have an ever-growing number of people coming here having to be put up in hotels at immense cost to the UK?

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    I am grateful to the noble Lord, who has been here during the various days in Committee. He will have heard last Wednesday what the Government’s own estimate is regarding the deterrent effect of the Illegal Migration Act. That ranges towards the top element of deterrence of 50%. That is not ours or the Opposition’s but the Government’s estimate of the likely impact of the Illegal Migration Act, and that is the mechanism by which this is brought about. A 50% deterrence would be roughly 16,000 people.

    Lord Lilley:

    If it does not rise.

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    Well, that is the deterrent effect. Assuming that of those who are coming, 50% on a regular basis are deterred, then over the long term there would still be 50% coming by boats. That is not my estimate, it is the Government’s estimate.

    Lord Murray of Blidworth:

    My Lords—

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    Before I give way, presumably what the noble Lord wants to get to is a deterrent effect of 100%, so that the boats are stopped, which is what we all want. But so far I have not found anything in any government documentation of policy that says that anything they are going to do will bring about 100% deterrence. Has the noble Lord found it?

    Lord Lilley:

    I asked the noble Lord for his estimate of what will happen if we have no deterrent effect and there is an ever-growing number of people crossing the channel. Is it possible even to reach a figure? It must be enormous.

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    The Permanent Secretary at the Home Office was unable to do so. That is why he sought ministerial direction. Home Office civil servants sought ministerial direction because the Permanent Secretary said that the Government’s policy was not proven value for money.

    Lord Murray of Blidworth:

    Will the noble Lord give way?

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    I will address the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, and then happily give way to the noble Lord.

    The valid question is, “If this Bill will not work, what would work?” We know that this Bill will not work, so the better deterrent effects are those policies such as relocation and resettlement agreements, which comply with international law and have policing mechanisms attached to them. That is called the Albania deal. I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that this has been a success.

    Lord Lilley:

    A deterrent effect of 90%.

    Lord Purvis of Tweed:

    From a sedentary position. I agree with the noble Lord. I think Hansard picked it up: a successful 90% deterrent. The noble Lord heard me at Second Reading saying that we welcomed the Albania deal. An internationally legal, efficient, effective resettlement and relocation agreement is what works. This is not any of those. I happily give way to the noble Lord, Lord Murray.

    …later…

    Lord Coaker:

    Well, it is someone’s idea of how to answer that particular question, but it is not an answer.

    I worked out the number of small boat arrivals myself, simply by counting the Home Office’s own statistics from the middle of July to the end of 2023, which came to over 16,000. According to the law that the Government have passed, all those people are waiting to be deported, but the only answer that the Government give is Rwanda.

    The noble Lord, Lord Lilley, is quite right to make the point about Albania. Albania works because it is Albanians being sent back to Albania. It is not a Rwandan deal with people from all over the world supposedly being sent to a third-party country. I quite agree with respect to that. If the Government had other treaties like this one organised, they would not have half the problems that they do, so the noble Lord is right to make that point.

    The Minister has made no attempt to say the number waiting for deportation under the Illegal Migration Act. I worked it out for myself by looking at the statistics. If I can work it out using the Government’s own statistics, why can the Minister not come to this Chamber and tell us what the number is? Where are they? We read time and again that the Government have lost most of them or do not know where many of them are. That was part of the purpose of what I said.

    I want a timeline because I am interested. If this is the only thing the Government are saying is going to work with respect to dealing with the small boats crisis and it will act as a deterrent, surely, we deserve some idea about the Government’s timeline. If it is going to act as a deterrent in the way the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, said, then people would know that there will be planes every week taking hundreds of people. We read from the Court of Appeal that Rwanda can only take a few hundred people, yet there are tens of thousands waiting to be deported. That is not a policy; it is a gimmick. It is a way of trying to pretend that something is going on.

    Lord Lilley:

    Will the noble Lord give way?

    Lord Coaker:

    I will give way in a moment.

    Why can the Minister not give us some numbers and facts? That is all we were asking for. I hope and I would expect, frankly, that we get a bit more about the numbers the Government are working towards. They will have working assumptions they are working towards, and this Chamber deserves to know what they are.

    Lord Lilley:

    I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I bet if he were to ask the Australians their estimate of the number they would have to send to Nauru before it had a deterrent effect, they would not have been able to give a figure. They would have probably given a figure that was much larger than what turned out to be the case. I can, in the privacy of this Room, since no one will report it, say from speaking to civil servants about the Albanian situation that they were expecting to have to deport far more people before it had any effect. It started to have an effect even before they had deported one new person; they were only deporting people who arrived before the agreement took effect.

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